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January 15, 2013

Maryland Gov going all in on effort to repeal state's death penalty

As reported in this new Washington Post article, "Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to announce Tuesday that he will put the full weight of his office behind repealing the death penalty, a move that could tip the balance on an issue that has sharply divided the legislature for years." Here is more:

The governor has long opposed capital punishment, arguing that it is costly and an ineffective deterrent, but he has only once before sponsored a repeal bill, which fell short in 2009.  With the arrival of several new lawmakers since then, and a sense of renewed momentum, O’Malley (D) is set to try again, according to several aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to more freely discuss the planned announcement.

O’Malley will make the announcement, the aides said, at a noon rally Tuesday in Annapolis with leaders of the NAACP and other civil rights activists, who have made repeal of Maryland’s death penalty a priority this year. Though the governor’s decision does not guarantee passage, “it makes a huge difference,” said Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where repeal bills have stalled in past years, with members arguing that the death penalty should be available for the most egregious murder cases....

With O’Malley’s name on the bill, it is certain to get heightened media attention, as well as the focus of a team of lobbyists employed by the governor’s office and personal attention from O’Malley himself.

Maryland has not executed a prisoner since 2005, but perennial efforts to repeal the death penalty have fallen short. Meanwhile, other states have moved more decisively.  Last year, Connecticut became the fifth state in five years to abolish capital punishment....

But at a time when O’Malley is contemplating a run for national office in 2016, passage of a repeal bill in the Free State — which has five prisoners on death row — could burnish his credentials as a progressive leader with the ability to get things done.

O’Malley is coming off several victories at the ballot box in November, including voter ratification of an O’Malley-sponsored law that legalizes same-sex marriage and another measure, known as the Dream Act, to extend in-state college tuition rates to illegal immigrants....

In recent months, O’Malley has been coy when asked about his plans on the death penalty. The issue gained traction a couple of weeks ago when Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said he is willing to let the full body debate the bill, even if it lacks the vote to get out of committee....

Maryland has had an effective moratorium on executions since late 2006, when the Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s death penalty procedures had not been properly adopted, halting executions until new regulations were issued by the administration. O’Malley’s administration issued new rules in 2009, but they were withdrawn after legislators raised objections.  The rules have not been reissued.

As this article notes, Gov. O’Malley's abolitionist effort here is a national story because there is much buzz that O’Malley has national political aspirations.  Also, were Maryland to repeal the death penalty, it would be the state closest to the deep south to take capital punishment off the books in modern times.

January 15, 2013 at 09:01 AM | Permalink

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Would that he go "all in" to punish murderers, and thusly bring justice for victims.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 15, 2013 10:36:25 AM

: NAACP :

Here is an example of how the modern NAACP prefers law enforcement to
deal with crime,
in this case "on behalf of two SEIU members who threw a victim to the ground,
repeatedly punched him in the face, and called him "nigger":

"Back in the day, we used to call someone like that [the victim]…which we called, a 'Negro',
I mean that we call him a 'Negro' in the fact that he works [sic] not for our people but
against our people. In the old days, we call him an 'Uncle Tom'. I just gotta say that…I
didn't mean to call him a brother…he's sitting in a wheelchair, being kissed on the
forehead, by a European."

[ Zaki Baruti, rally organiser, Missouri NAACP, May 5, 2010
"demanding that the county prosecutor drop assault charges"
in attack on Afro-American Tea Party member Kenneth Gladney,
who was handing out flags at a Tea Party event.
~~"Blackwards", by R. Christie, St. Martin's Press, 2012.]

Posted by: Adamakis | Jan 15, 2013 10:40:02 AM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Seeks Expert Opinion of John Marshall Professor Regarding Death Penalty Rulings

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School professor Michael Mears was recently interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding the decline in death penalty rulings in Georgia and nationwide. Based on a survey designed to track capital punishment nationwide, it appears more juries are less likely to opt for the death penalty. The article stated, “Only twice this year did a Georgia jury choose death as the punishment for murder. Those numbers are consistent with recent years, as the death penalty has been on the wane for more than a decade in Georgia and nationally.”
Viewed as a death penalty expert, Professor Mears said, “Jurors are finally catching on that sentencing someone to death really doesn’t accomplish any sense of justice for the victim’s family. Jurors are beginning to believe that life without parole does mean life without parole. The gloss is off the death penalty in many, many cases and it’s showing up on the number of death penalty cases.”
Professor Mears said he believes the cost of death penalty trials is part of the reason district attorneys are not seeking the punishment as often as they did in the past. He goes on to say a death case can cost $1 million to $1.5 million, including appeals. The article mentioned the death penalty trial of convicted courthouse killer Brian Nichols cost $3.2 million to which Professor Mears responded, “Cases like the Brian Nichols case can break the back of the public defender system.”
Professor Mears is an asset to Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School and is representative of the stellar faculty employed at the law school. From 1992 until December 2002 Professor Mears served as the founding Director of the Multi-County Public Defender Office – Georgia's first state-wide death penalty public defender office. In January 2003 he was appointed Director of the Public Defender Standards Council. He began his legal career with the law firm of McCurdy & Candler, but left the firm in 1989 to devote his law practice to defending death penalty cases full-time. He has served as lead trial counsel in over 27 death penalty trials since 1984. In addition to these cases, Professor Mears served as lead or co-counsel in over 60 additional death penalty cases that were resolved without trials. He currently teaches Advanced Criminal Procedure, Advanced Evidence, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence at the law school. For more on our faculty at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, visit www.johnmarshall.edu/faculty.

Posted by: Guest | Jan 15, 2013 10:48:07 AM

Doug --

As you observed recently, a repeal of the death penalty would have much more national resonance if done by a vote of the people.

Right on. I would have no problem submitting the death penalty to a vote by Marylanders. Abolitionists saw nothing wrong with a vote of the people just two and a half months ago in California. They lost, despite outspending retentionist forces 20-1, but the point is that at least California pols let the electorate directly decide this extremely important moral and (some would say) fiscal issue.

Let's see Maryland abolitionists have the same courage. No backroom deals. Let the people decide.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 15, 2013 2:13:12 PM

What is it about Democrats that make them take up the cudgel for brutal murderers?

Posted by: federalist | Jan 16, 2013 12:18:18 AM

People across the political spectrum support and oppose the death penalty including some victims of murders. On that front, "Coffee Shop God: by Therese Bartholomew was a touching read.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 16, 2013 11:04:03 AM

Joe --

With all respect, I have to doubt that "victims of murders" have much to say on the subject, or any other.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 16, 2013 1:19:17 PM

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